fun in the sun at Northey Street & the Ceylon spinach ship has landed!

Posted by on Jan 29, 2017 in Home | 18 Comments

In a cruel twist of fate, I happened to be conducting permaculture tours and hot composting workshops at Northey Street City Farm during one of our heatwaves. We had a massive group of amazing Chinese students from Guangzhou visiting over a four day period. The students knew very little English (as I know little Chinese) so it was challenging for all in challenging conditions. However in my desperation to describe nitrogen materials, namely animal manure, I used one universally understood word for poo starting with S. This proved to be absolutely hilarious to the group and seemed to provide renewed energy when we were fading fast. They carried on like troopers, shovelling animal s*** to build compost on a 35 degree day with smiles on their faces. The moral of this story is sometimes you just have to call a spade a spade. Then use your spade to keep on shovelling whenever life gives you s***. I’m actually just making a lot of this up because it is so hot, I can’t think straight.

1

Ceylon spinach (Basella alba) also known as Malabar Greens is another permaculture plant revelation. This annual vine has a bit of an alien quality about it, like if you stand still long enough it will wrap its tentacles around you. Although it’s not a true spinach, the leaves and shoots taste the same and you treat it the same. I tend to eat it raw in salads. Like other leafy greens, Ceylon spinach is high in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron and calcium, and unlike other spinach in the heat of summer, it will not go bitter. It grows easily, likes lots of water and loves hot, tropical weather. When planting seeds, mix soil with a few handfuls of compost, water well and they should germinate in a few weeks. Try and fertilise regularly with liquid manure or fish emulsion when it’s hot. You just need to pick off the flowers and harvest regularly to encourage growth. Now I’m warning you, as this is a vine, I would advise growing in a big pot with a trellis (you can roll wire mesh into a cylinder to fit the diameter of the pot). However, if you have the space (like me) you can let it go feral in your garden. I’m telling you this plant is a summer must :: Jem x

1a

18 Comments

  1. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    January 29, 2017

    Haha you are too funny! And I guess the s word is one that is rather universal. Thinking about it, I know how to say it in a few languages 😉

    Reply
    • lostinutensils
      January 29, 2017

      LOL you have the skills Lorraine! It’s a handy one 😜

      Reply
  2. Tandy | Lavender and Lime
    January 30, 2017

    Ha ha, sometimes you just need to call it like it is for sure. I’m going to look for this plant as I need ground cover that grows wild.

    Reply
    • lostinutensils
      January 30, 2017

      That’s right Tandy ha ha. Ceylon spinach might be a good one for you, it grows wild alright…and you can eat it!

      Reply
  3. sherry MacKay
    January 30, 2017

    now that is an interesting looking plant Jem. Oh my, I can barely bring myself to do anything in this heat except fall around in a heap in front of the fan. yep sometimes calling a spade a spade is the only way to go.

    Reply
    • lostinutensils
      January 30, 2017

      I know we are both fans of the heat Sherry 😬 Wish it was over already. These plants are tougher than me…

      Reply
  4. Sam Rutherford
    January 30, 2017

    You make me laugh jem! I can’t imagine doing that in the heat. You deserve a medal for that one.

    Reply
    • lostinutensils
      January 30, 2017

      LOL no medals here Sam. I think the Chinese students did brilliantly 🙂

      Reply
  5. Ngeun
    January 31, 2017

    Hi Jem! Happy new year and best wishes to you all. Yes, this heat can be challenging/unbearable down here too. I happen to have some Ceylon spinach growing on the balcony from mum’s seeds. They have green stems though, not purple, but I’m sure they taste the same. We love them too. Cool that the vines are so responsive. 😊

    Reply
    • lostinutensils
      January 31, 2017

      Happy New Year Ngeun! Yes, it has been so hot everywhere this year particularly Sydney. That is so fantastic you’re growing Ceylon Spinach, it is the best in this heat! I also know of the green stemmed plants and I’m pretty sure they taste the same 😄

      Reply
  6. Function 9
    February 1, 2017

    Ceylon spinach is a pretty amazing plant and tastes good!

    Reply
    • lostinutensils
      February 1, 2017

      I know! It just amazes me how it thrives in this climate while looking fantastic. I wish I could do that lol.

      Reply
  7. Amanda
    February 6, 2017

    What an interesting sounding plant for summer greens. Under normal circumstances I doubt it would thrive here in dry South Aus, but we are having a ridiculously wet summer, so it would be right at home.

    Reply
    • lostinutensils
      February 6, 2017

      Hey Amanda, this summer is just all over the place. Even though CS loves a tropical climate, it might just be OK in SA at the moment. I grew up in SA and remember the dry, hot summer’s. I really would prefer that to the humidity here in Brissie!

      Reply
  8. All That I'm Eating
    February 7, 2017

    Definitely a good idea to grow it in a pot so it doesn’t take over!

    Reply
    • lostinutensils
      February 7, 2017

      Sometimes that is the best advice in life lol. I can guarantee it will take over!

      Reply
  9. Muna Kenny
    February 16, 2017

    Hi Jem, reading your post made me smile. I’m glad to have found your blog 🙂

    Reply

Leave a Comment